Even though I consider it the biggest concern on the team heading into next Thursday's season opener, UM coach Randy Shannon told reporters Thursday he's not worried about his team's depth on the defensive line.
And it seemed like he meant even if projected starting defensive ends Allen Bailey and Eric Moncur (whom Shannon said are supposed to see doctors Thursday) aren't ready for Charleston Southern. Shannon told reporters both need to be practicing by Sunday to play in the first game.
"Anytime you have a rotation on the defensive line you're OK," Shannon said. "But anytime you don't have a rotation that's when you'll have problems. We have five guys working in at defensive tackle and another five guys at defensive end, so nobody is really going to have play more than 35 snaps a game. That's pretty good."
Part of the reason Shannon might be feeling better is the emergence of freshman Marcus Robinson, who has continued to impress coaches as a rush end. "Right now he's with second team," Shannon told reporters. "He's running, making plays and we're excited about him."
> Shannon said sophomore Leonard Hankerson's big day Tuesday (he caught three touchdown passes in the final scrimmage) was encouraging, so much so that coaches now have moved him from the inside slot position back to the outside.
> Shannon said kicker Matt Bosher missed a 54-yard field goal in Tuesday's scrimmage, but came back and hit one from "40-something." He said freshman Jake Wieclaw also made one from 40-yards. Shannon once again said if the season started today Bosher would handle all of the kicking duties.
Special teams coach Joe Pannunzio said he is comfortable with Bosher attempting field goals from as far out as 55 yards. "But I like extra points a lot better than 40 yard field goals," Pannunzio said. "But he has the ability to make them from that far."
"Matt has the strongest leg. Sometimes he's the most accurate," Pannunzio said. "He hit a little slump about two weeks ago. Part of that is probably me. We hadn't settled on a short snapper for extra points and field goals and now we've settled on that it's going to be Jake Byrne. Everybody talks about the kickers on the field goal, but that snapper is awfully important. I think he's lucky in that his holder is the same guy from high school Matt Perrelli."
Pannunzio said he believes Bosher has a strong enough leg and is athletic enough to handle all three duties, but admits he was worried last year Bosher would struggle with the punting. "If you look at him last year, after three or four games everyone thought it was going to be a nightmare," Pannunzio said. "But as the year progressed, he got better and it was just like if you or me and went out there and started something new we'd make a lot of mistakes early. As he became more comfortable, I thought he became pretty good. I thought when we played Virginia Tech, he held them down pretty good. Eddie Royal was as good a punt returner as I've played against and he did a great job holding him down."
> Pannunzio said what has been holding back Wieclaw, whom he insists is healthy after coming back from a broken foot, has been getting used to kicking off the ground and not a tee.
> As far as the return game is concerned, Pannunzio made it seem like Ryan Hill is a lock to start opposite either Shawnbrey McNeal or Brandon Harris. Bruce Johnson is also possibility. Even though Pannunzio said he still likes Aldarius Johnson back there, Shannon told reporters Johnson has been taken of kick returns.
> Graig Cooper is the front runner for punt returns. "And then Travis Benjamin, who is like lightning," Pannunzio said. "Thearon Collier, Chavez Grant is sure-handed and he's been back there before. That's kind of it."
> Former UM kicker Daren Daly has turned up at the University of Central Florida. Daly kicked for UM and FSU and is probably the only guy in the state's history to play for three different I-A schools.